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You have probably heard the expression, either as “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” or “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.

In essence what they are saying is that the culture of the organisation is stronger than the strategy and the planned change.  The strategy will fail if you try to over come the culture.

Implication: Go home and stop trying.

But here is the  kicker:  “If you believe that ‘culture eats strategy’, then you believe that your strategy will always fail!

Yes, just give up.  It’s the best idea.  Strategy will always fail so just drop it – let the culture dominate.  Meanwhile give up, go home and tackle something you can change.  (Of course I am being proviocative and ironic – but if your really believe this then these are the implications – you have been warned!)

No!  Don’t give up – it’s the wrong thinking”

Ok, are you still there.  Good, because there is an alternative.

Actually there is a an answer.  And it is very simple.

If you believe that your culture is eating your strategy – then the solution, the solution is to find a better strategy for changing your culture.

Yes indeed.  It is that simple.

The problem is that your strategy for changing your culture is too weak.  What do you have to do?  Find a better strategy for changing cultures.  That is what I did.

Find a better strategy to change your culture

You have a failing strategy for cultural change.   It is not effective enough.  That is the problem.  Stop making excuses for failure.  You need a much better strategy to change your culture.

There are better strategies for changing culture and performance out there.  How do I know? – because I have interviewed executives who have been implementing them.  They turn around organisations and change both the  performance AND the culture.

They succeed in changing the behaviours.  The learnt behaviours.  The deeply embedded behaviours learnt over a long period of time.

So, if you are starting to believe that strategy gets eaten by culture for breakfast, lunch, dinner or whenever, then think again.  Go out and find a better strategy to change the culture.  I have.

So strategy might sometimes get eaten by culture.  But culture can also be eaten by the right strategy.Especially if you tackle it in the right way.

Are there better strategies out there?

Yes there are.

I have been researching this very topic.  I have been interviewing Chief Executives who have transformed both the performance and culture of their organisation.

What is interesting from these interviews with Chief Executives is the pattern that  has emerged from these interviews.  A pattern common to almost all of those interviewed.  One that successfully changes the “deeply embedded learnt behaviours” in the  organisations and sets the organisation on a path to learn new behaviours and create a new culture.  I’ll be talking more about this in a forthcoming articles.

If you want to find out more before then simply get in touch and I can arrange a talk or presentation with you.


(By the way I know the picture shows a vulture, not a culture, but it was close!  Only one letter out! )

Does culture eat strategy for lunch?